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Federal Judge Rules in Favor of NCDOT in Bonner Bridge Lawsuit

For Immediate Release - September 16, 2013

RALEIGH The N.C. Department of Transportation's efforts to replace the aging Bonner Bridge took a giant step forward Monday after a federal judge ruled in its favor, denying a motion to stop the project. Federal Judge Louise Flanagan issued that ruling in a 42-page document this morning denying the Southern Environmental Law Center's claims on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Refuge Association that a new parallel bridge over the Oregon Inlet should not be built based on environmental concerns. The order is attached.

"This is a great day for residents and millions of visitors to the Outer Banks, and an historic day for North Carolina. We want to thank Judge Flanagan for her ruling," said State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. "We've spent millions of dollars of taxpayer money keeping the existing bridge open and we know it stands on borrowed time. With this ruling, we are prepared to move as quickly as possible to replace this lifeline bridge."

"I'm proud of the hard work and collaboration that NCDOT and multiple state and federal agencies and local leaders have done to protect this vital way," said Governor Pat McCrory.

Next Steps
The ruling clears one of two legal hurdles the department faced in moving forward with construction of a new bridge. NCDOT is now working with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to resolve a petition at the state level stemming from a similar complaint from the SELC. Once that petition is resolved and those permits are secured, NCDOT immediately will move forward with construction of the new bridge. The contract to build the bridge was awarded in August 2011.

Background
NCDOT has already spent more than $56 million in necessary repairs, inspection and maintenance on the 50-year-old bridge since beginning the process to replace it more than two decades ago. Starting next week, weather permitting, the department will begin the first of two additional repair projects on the bridge. The two projects, which total $2 million, are both scheduled to begin this fall and are necessary to keep this critical lifeline open until the department can replace it. At this time the Bonner Bridge remains safe for travel. NCDOT teams are constantly monitoring the bridge and if safety ever becomes a concern the bridge would be closed immediately.

Read more about the history of the Bonner Bridge and challenges to building a new one
.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 23, NCDOT will close a one-lane section of the bridge between a half-mile and mile-long so crews with Coastal Gunite Construction Co. of Cambridge, Md. will be able to access girders and the underside of the bridge deck to make concrete repairs. As a part of this $388,910 project, crews will apply concrete patches to areas of the bridge to protect exposed steel. These areas were identified for priority maintenance during the last regular two-year inspection of the bridge that took place in 2012.

The second repair project, totaling $1.4 million, includes repairs to the supplemental supports of the bridge and is scheduled to begin later this month.

NCDOT awarded a $215.8 million contract to PCL Civil Constructors Inc. in August 2011 for the design and construction of a new bridge. Design work began immediately and construction of the new bridge was originally set to begin in early 2013.

***NCDOT***

WHO WE ARE

The Citizen's Action Committee to Replace the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge formed as a grassroots organization in the spring of 2006 to help bring a human face to what we felt had become a stalled and detached scientific debate over the bridge replacement. We now serve as advisory committee to the Dare County Board of Commissioners. Not only is our Committee charged with the responsibility to advocate for replacement of this critical lifeline to Hatteras Island, but we also act to ensure that the entire North Carolina Highway 12 corridor that services Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands remains a sustainable and viable transportation link. We support solutions that strike a balance between the people, the environment and the economy.

STAY INFORMED

Click on the link “Join Our Mailing List” so we can keep you informed, in a timely way, about future developments related to the Bonner Bridge.  By adding your name to our database, we will let you as events unfold in the future.

View "Dare County Applauds Record of Decision"

View Official Public Comments

View Marc Basnight Letter #1

View Marc Basnight Letter #2

View NCDOT receives “Historic Number” of Public Comments

View NCDOT letter to Legislators about the Department of the Interior

 
photos courtesy of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
 
 
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